Comments on “Pops and the shudder”

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The Shudder within the Story

Rin'dzin's picture

Reading your commentary here, I was reminded of one of the brothers Grimm's tales, The Story of the young man who did not know fear. It's about a man who wants to know what it is to shudder and sets out on a quest to find out. Eventually, he does...but it's not conventional fear that teaches him (for he is fearless of ghouls, ghosts and dead people), it's his first encounter with visceral uncertainty - or, at least, that's my interpretation. I'm sure there are others.

It's an interesting, slightly peculiar story, but I think there's more to shuddering than it portrays. The young man's first shudder is concept-free; it comes from physical not-knowing.

My visceral reaction, on finding that Surya's uncle was telling him the story of his parents' meeting, was a spine-tingling warmth that spread to goose bumps on my neck and arms. I had an interesting intellectual response simultaneously..."Aha, of course, it's obvious that's what was being told...now that I know."

So for me, the shudder came with realising something that was previously hidden. I wonder if the ethical connection is that it's recognising what was already known, or felt as true, but not yet consciously articulated?

Rin'dzin

A catch of the breath . . .

"Did you have any physical sensation reading it? Please leave a comment."

At the moment when the witch in the story is revealed to be the narrator's mother, I believe I experienced a catch of the breath--a sort of pause, before my normal breathing resumed. I caught onto the witch=dakini=mom equation just before the narrator spelled it out in words. This catching of the breath, or altered breathing rhythm, is also what happens to me when I watch a John Carpenter movie, or any other movie that really draws you into the action. So . . . good work!

This is very interesting.

Cesar's picture

This is very interesting. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about "Don Quijote" and I was criticising what I thought was a weakness in the book, something that in my view detracted from the main plot.

And it was that Quijote and Panza meet these characters while they are on the road, one being a woman dressed as a man, who tells them her own story and explains her situation, a romantic tale this, in the literary style of the time, not dissimilar to some of Shakespeare's plot lines. Several chapters are devoted to the unraveling in real time of this subplot.

My friend and I were marvelling at Cervantes's way of mixing D. Quijote's deluded and literary inner world with the "real" one and how he achieves moments of utter confusion (for me the Clavileño episode is the best example), in which it almost appears like Quijote's ghost world is the real one.

After having read your comments on the Vampire's tale I now see how that sub plot and others in the novel contribute to mesh the real and imaginary worlds together realistically!

Don Quixote

I've meant to read that since I was in high school, and have never gotten to it! But—this is an interesting coincidence—a couple weeks ago I heard a program on NPR about it, which explained exactly this point: the premonitory postmodernism of it, the self-reference and story-within-a-story aspects. That made me think "yes, it's time, I really do need to read it!"

I'm glad to have been of

Cesar Camba's picture

I'm glad to have been of service. Notice also how the story (I'm speaking from memory) is presented as having been found in a manuscript by an Arab (you mention this device).

Interesting too that although the geography of the part of Spain in which the action develops is very accurate (Cervantes was a travelling tax collector), to the point that if you drive through La Mancha nowadays you see all kinds of little plaques and monuments celebrating the itinerary of D. Quixote, the actual name of his supposed birthplace is purposefully left unmentioned. Funnily enough I heard it said that the character of D. Quixote so confused the popular mind that it led many to believe he'd been a historical person, it may still happen nowadays.

This reminds me of this modern phenomenon that soap actors find, in which people in the street relate to them as if they were the characters, not an actor. I even saw myself Larry hangman once in a chat show and was genuinely surprised at what nice a bloke he was!

Traversing the fictional terrain

That is interesting—Thank you!

I have had a similar experience travelling around Britain after growing up in the United States. So much of English-language fiction is set there that I would constantly find myself thinking "Oh! This is where so-and-so happened!" But the event was purely fictional—something I had read in a novel.